Here’s my game story from this morning’s editions and some leftovers worth chewing on:
— Jorge Gutierrez’s career-high 34 points were the most scored by any Pac-10 player this season other than Washington State’s Klay Thompson, who’s had games of 35 and 36 (the latter against Cal).
— Gutierrez became the 34th player in Cal history to score at least 30 in a game. Teammate Harper Kamp had 33 against Arizona.
— Cal teammates hadn’t each scored 30-plus points in the same season since the the 1976-77 campaign when Gene Ransom had his 36-point effort in the five-overtime win over Oregon and Ray Murry had a pair, including 41 points against Stanford.
— The Bears snapped a six-game home losing streak to UCLA, beating the Bruins at Haas Pavilion for the first time since 2004. They had knocked off UCLA five times in L.A. in the meantime.
— Cal is now 1-3 against the top two teams in the Pac-10 standings, losing twice by two points to first-place Arizona, losing once by two points to the second-place Bruins, and beating UCLA by four points.
— Among the many ways Allen Crabbe’s return helped the Bears: He played 43 minutes, allowing Mike Montgomery to minimize use of reserve players who aren’t as prepared for a game of this level. Harper Kamp and Brandon Smith also each played 43 minutes, Gutierrez played 41 and Markhuri Sanders-Frison 37. That left just 18 (out of 225) for the bench.
— Nice pregame decision by Montgomery to go with man-to-man defense. The ploy, which he sprung on his players 10 minutes before tipoff, clearly fired them up. They switched back and forth to zone often later in the game, but the man defense set an aggressive tone.
— UCLA couldn’t possibly have responded more poorly to Cal’s defense of choice. The Bruins played into the Bears’ hands by hoistng up 12 3-point shots in the first half — they made just one of them — instead of attacking. When they got smart and began using their quickness to drive the ball in the second half, the game got closer and Cal was forced to mix in some zone.
— UCLA convered on just nine of 35 possessions in the first half to score 18 points, the Bruins’ season-low for the opening half.
— Curious decision by UCLA coach Ben Howland to go away from the three-guard lineup that was causing Cal trouble in the second half. The arrangement forced Cal to defend the quicker Tyler Honeycutt with Kamp. Kamp was going to have a physical edge when he posted up on offense, but Honeycutt had made back-to-back 3-pointers over him when Howland switched back to his more usual alignment.
— Yes, Cal was trying to foul, ahead by three points with 6.6 seconds left in regulation. Here’s how Montgomery explained it afterward:
“We tried to foul. We actually changed our strategy. We took the second timeout (to decide). We wanted to cushion them down the floor, see if we could make them use as much time as we could. At some point we wanted to foul them. We were up 3, knowing they were going to shoot a 1 and 1. We decided to go for it.”
But Sanders-Frison simply knocked the ball out of bounds when he reached in on Reeves Nelson along the left sideline and didn’t get the foul call the Bears wanted. That gave UCLA another inbounds play with 3.3 seconds left. Malcolm Lee got the ball and made his difficult 3-pointer over Crabbe.
“We just fell asleep at the wheel and he made it,” Montgomery said. “And I was not happy.”
— Brandon Smith on Gutierrez’s low-key post-game reaction in the locker room: “His demeanor stays the same. Just smiles, high fives and crack a little joke like it wasn’t a big deal. Just another day.”
— Smith on having Crabbe back in the lineup: “It was definitely big to have Allen tonight. You could tell he’s not completely back, but it was great to have someone you’re comfortable with out there.”
— Crabbe said he went through his first contact practice on Saturday, when he found out he would play. “It felt good to be out there. I got a lot of rest, took it slow, made sure all the symptoms were gone.”